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NIA to quiz directors of companies, Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s wife

Agency to probe if companies were shell firms floated to route funds from foreign entities, Gulf countries.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai |
Updated: November 21, 2016 1:13:11 am
National Investigation Agency, Zakir Naik, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Harmony Media, news, latest news, India news, national news, Mumbai news Four more locations of the IRF were searched by NIA sleuths in Mumbai on Sunday. (Express photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) soon plans to question the directors of the companies affiliated to the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), including the wife of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik who has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). An official alleged that according to the records available with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), besides his NGO IRF, Naik also set up two real estate companies and a video and television software production house, Harmony Media, in Mumbai between 2005 and 2008.

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Naik and his wife, Farhat Zakir Naik, were promoters-cum-directors of the two real estate companies — Longlast Construction and Right Property Solutions — till March 2013. Both these companies did not report any income in the seven-year period between FY’09 and FY’15. Harmony Media was incorporated in 2005. Zakir Naik was the managing director from May 8, 2006 till he resigned on March 13, 2013. His wife was appointed on the board on May 8, 2006, and resigned on March 15, 2013. In the last couple of years, while Longlast Construction saw a surge in borrowing, Harmony TV saw a steady growth in revenue.

“The directors will be quizzed on these companies, their functioning, the source of funds and its spending. We would be also summoning the office-bearers of IRF,” a senior official told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity. Officials said the financial trail was an important aspect of the probe to ascertain if these were ‘shell companies’ which were floated to route the funds that were given by foreign contributors especially those from Gulf countries. “We will also probe if the funds were pumped into these entities by contributors who had vested interest in the ‘pro-terror’ rhetoric preached by Naik,” the official added.

Meanwhile, four more locations of the IRF were searched by NIA sleuths in Mumbai on Sunday in addition to the 12 locations searched by the agency on Saturday. A team of investigators is now studying the several terabytes of data seized from the office of Harmony Media. “The recovery from Harmony Media is central to our probe as it deals with speeches which were aired on Peace TV, most of which were inciting and provocative in nature,” the official said.

“The mandate of our probe is to investigate if these speeches incite people, especially the youth, to take up arms or join banned terror outfits and also if his speeches create disaffection amongst the members of public,” the official said. On Saturday, IRF had expressed its displeasure over freezing of the bank accounts of Islamic International School (IIS), run under the IRF Educational Trust, claiming that it will affect its day-to-day functioning.

But sources denied seizing of bank accounts. “We have not seized the school’s bank account. So far, no bank account of IRF or its affiliates have been frozen by us,” an NIA spokesperson told The Indian Express. The three-storey air-conditioned school located in Mazgaon in South Mumbai imparts education to students of sixth to tenth class. Naik has been booked under Sections 10 (Penalty for being member of an unlawful association), 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 18 (Punishment for conspiracy) of UAPA and Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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